glbtq: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer culture
home
arts
literature
social sciences
special features
discussion
about glbtq
   search

 
   Encyclopedia
   Discussion
 
 

   member name
  
   password
  
 
   
   Forgot Your Password?  
   
Not a Member Yet?  
   
JOIN TODAY. IT'S FREE!

 
  Advertising Opportunities
  Permissions & Licensing
  Terms of Service
  Privacy Policy
  Copyright

 

 

 

 

 
literature

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-B  C-E  F-L  M-Z

     
Bates, Katharine Lee (1859 -1929)  
 
page: 1  2  

Breast cancer struck Coman around 1906. Metastasis was not well-understood at the time; in spite of surgeries in 1911 and 1912 the disease progressed. Bedridden from the autumn of 1914 and nursed by Bates, relatives, and friends, Coman died in January 1915.

In her grief, Bates moved into Coman's room and wrote two notable tributes to Coman and their relationship.

Sponsor Message.

A private memoir distributed to Coman's family and friends (and eventually published nine decades later) described Coman's demeanor and course of treatment over her final weeks. Through coded language, necessitated by the constraint against naming the disease outright, emerges a loving portrait of courage in the face of pain and disfigurement. Literary critic Ellen Leopold characterizes it as the earliest American example of a breast cancer narrative.

Yellow Clover, a tribute in poetry to Coman, employs a formal architecture of meter and rhyme and concludes with a tightly-constructed "corona of sonnets" (a cycle of seven sets of seven poems) that plumbs the bereaved's longing to be reunited after death:

"Let us hold fast the Life Eternal!" So

You bade me, so I strive, a better lover

Than I shall be a saint. Oh, starspace rover,

Would we might stroll once more, as long ago,

Startling the bobolinks, across the glow

Of Wellesley meadows lit by yellow clover . . . .

In later years Bates gave moral support to the peace efforts of the League of Nations. After retirement in 1925 she continued to write poetry until her death on March 28, 1929.

Contemporary efforts to claim the Bates-Coman relationship as part of the lesbian cultural legacy have provoked objections because the term "lesbian" implies a sexual dimension that cannot be assumed with certainty for most nineteenth-century romantic friendships.

However, the partnership between and Coman was primary, co-residential, mutually supportive of career aspirations, and attested to--in both public and personal writings--by prolific declarations of love, a constellation of traits congruent with the ideal of egalitarian marriage favored by modern feminists.

It was clearly a companionship beyond the scope of ordinary friendship, and one that only death could part.

Ruth M. Pettis

  <previous page   page: 1  2    

    
 interact  
   
Contact Us
 
Join the Discussion
 
 find 
   
Related Entries
 
More Entries by this contributor
 
A Bibliography on this Topic

 
Citation Information
 
More Entries about Literature
 
 


   Related Entries
  
literature >> Overview:  American Literature: Lesbian, 1900-1969

American lesbian literature prior to Stonewall exploited the "outlaw" status of the lesbian as it moved from encrypted strategies of expression to overt political celebrations of woman-for-woman passion.

literature >> Overview:  American Literature: Nineteenth Century

Although sometimes coded as romantic friendship, both gay male and lesbian attractions are reflected in nineteenth-century American poetry and fiction, including works by such major figures as Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, and Emily Dickinson.

social sciences >> Overview:  Boston

Boston has seen a variety of responses to its glbtq citizens, ranging from acceptance of "Boston marriages" to vice squad raids of gay bars to joyous weddings of same-sex couples.

literature >> Overview:  Poetry: Lesbian

Since the 1960s, the general trend in lesbian poetry has been collective and political rather than purely aesthetic.

literature >> Overview:  Romantic Friendship: Female

Until the beginning of the twentieth century, intimate, exclusive, and often erotic romantic friendships between women were largely perceived as normal and socially acceptable.

social sciences >> Addams, Jane

American reformer, social worker, peace activist, and Nobel Laureate Jane Addams is remembered as the founder of Hull House in Chicago, but her involvement in same-sex relationships has consistently been hidden or minimized by biographers.

social sciences >> Boston Marriages

Boston marriages--romantic unions between women that were usually monogamous but not necessarily sexual--flourished in the late nineteenth-century between women who tended to be college-educated, feminist, financially independent, and career-minded.

literature >> Rossetti, Christina

Her sexuality repressed by religion, Christina Rossetti wrote poetry that included highly-charged erotic female-to-female affection.

social sciences >> Thomas, M. Carey

One of the most prominent American educators of the early twentieth century, M. Carey Thomas shared her home with another woman while serving as the second president of the women-only Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania.


    Bibliography
   

Bates, Katherine Lee. "For Katharine Coman's Family and Innermost Circle of Friends." Legacy 23.1 (2006): 74-85.

_____. Yellow Clover: A Book of Remembrance. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1922.

Burgess, Dorothy. Dream and Deed: The Story of Katharine Lee Bates. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1952.

"Katharine Lee Bates." Songwriters Hall of Fame (2002-2012): http://www.songwritershalloffame.org/index.php/exhibits/bio/C194

Laden, Rich. "Katherine Lee Bates: Independent Spirit, Concern for People of All Races Were Driving Forces behind Author of 'America the Beautiful.'" Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph (July 4, 1993): A1.

Leopold, Ellen. "My Soul is Among Lions: Katharine Lee Bates' Account of the Illness and Death of Katharine Coman." Frontiers: A Journal of Women's Studies 23.1 (2006): 60-73. Also in Ellen Leopold. Legacy 23.1 (2006): 60-73.

Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Katharine Lee Bates: Writings." About.com: Women's History (2008): http://womenshistory.about.com/od/writers19th/p/katharine_bates.htm

Palmieri, Patricia A. "Here Was Fellowship: A Social Portrait of Academic Women at Wellesley College, 1895-1920." History of Education Quarterly 23.2 (Summer 1983): 195-214.

Schwarz, Judith. "Yellow Clover: Katharine Lee Bates and Katharine Coman." Frontiers: A Journal of Women's Studies 4.1 (Spring 1979): 59–67.

Vaughn, Gerald F. "Katharine Coman: America's First Woman Institutional Economist and a Champion of Education for Citizenship." Journal of Economic Issues 38.4 (December 2004): 989-1002.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Pettis, Ruth M.  
    Entry Title: Bates, Katharine Lee  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2012  
    Date Last Updated November 26, 2012  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/literature/bates_katharine_lee.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2012 glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

This Entry Copyright © 2012 glbtq, Inc.

www.glbtq.com is produced by glbtq, Inc., 1130 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL   60607 glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.